Intensity of laser attacks on aircraft may be reduced

Intensity of laser attacks on aircraft may be reduced with new coating, says recently published study

Published: June 2, 2015.

(L to R) Lewis University students Hubert Bilan,
Zachary Widel and Matt Moy work on developing
a protective coating for aircraft windshields.

A recently published Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering article shows Lewis University researchers have created a coating for aircraft that reduces pilot distraction from laser attacks.

In 2013 study, Lewis University proved these laser attacks, which average around 3,750 incidents a year, can be a distraction to pilots and a potential safety hazard during critical phases of flight. As part of continued research on the matter, Lewis University recently developed a practical and economical solution through the use of photoresponsive nanocomposite coatings on aircraft windscreens.

The most recent study published in JATE, “Measuring the Effectiveness of Photoresponsive Nanocomposite Coatings on Aircraft Windshields to Mitigate Laser Intensity” determined the application of the engineered films resulted in a reduction in laser intensity from 36-88 percent.

The study was completed through collaboration of the Aviation, Physics and Chemistry departments at Lewis University. The Chemistry Department developed the photoselective coatings, and the Physics Department developed the apparatus to efficiently test the coatings while allowing safe viewings of laser illumination. The coatings were bench-tested in a laboratory prior to conducting field tests at the 200- and 500-foot distances.

Authors of this study include, Dr. Stanley Harriman, Assistant Professor of Aviation and Transportation, Dr. Ryan Phillips, Assistant Professor Aviation and Transportation, Dr. Randal DeMik, Associate Professor in Aviation and Transportation, Dr. Charles Crowder, Associate Professor of Physics, Dr. Jason Keleher, Associate Professor and Chair of Chemistry. At the time of the study, Aviation graduate students Joseph E. Burlas and Steven F. Emmert contributed to the article. During their undergraduate studies, Chemistry students Hubert K. Bilan, Zachary X. Widel, Samantha J. Brain and James T. O’Malley III and Physics student Matthew Moy contributed as well.

The collaborative research results were recently published in the “Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering.” The publication is for collegiate and industrial scholars and researchers in the multidisciplinary fields of aviation technology, engineering and human factors.

This research was sponsored, in part, by a grant from the Colonel Stephan S. and Lyla Doherty Center for Aviation and Health Research. The Doherty Center funds research and scholarly initiatives and provides opportunities for research experiences for students with faculty mentors. Investigators supported by the Doherty Center have focused on several areas, such as cardiac therapy, wound management, flight deck laser illumination, the environment, diabetes, MRSA, and alternative fuels for aviation.

Since 1932, Lewis University has led the field of aviation education by preparing students from around the world to succeed in the aviation industries. An on-site airport, experienced and industry-leading faculty, personalized learning, degree programs that provide you with specialized experience and a well-rounded business, management and liberal arts education have made Lewis University’s aviation program one of the most respected in Illinois.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,700 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

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